The Blind Men and the Elephant: Making Sense of China's One Belt One Road Initiative

1 December 2016

China’s One Belt One Road Initiative has virtually been a lightning rod for divisive debate and a polarised narrative since it was announced in 2013. For India, it has been the proverbial elephant in the room, as it awkwardly swings between willful pretence and wishful erasure. The policy brief looks at the clues this initiative could offer on the likely drivers of China’s economic diplomacy in the region. There could be three signals for India to watch out for. A clear pointer is the growing role of domestic determinants in setting the direction and pace of China’s regional economic engagement. Another pointer could be China’s role in shaping and defining Asia’s new institutional financial architecture. Lastly, the initiative could be a signal of how China is likely to engage with the larger questions of benefit sharing, trade-offs and the allocation of risks and burdens in subregional Asia.